Funders interested in supporting the communication capacity of grantees often want to know where and how to begin. The following will guide and support your decision-making in developing an equity-based model that is right for your organization AND grantees.
When it comes to communication capacity building, there’s no “one-size fits all” model. An equitable approach requires you develop a program based on the needs of your participants, budget, timeframe and desired goals/outcomes. This should supplement – not replace – communication dollars in a grant. Below are models to consider.
This model focuses on training participants on all aspects of communication skills – strategy, message development, media relations, digital, how to be an effective spokesperson, crisis communication, etc. Topics should be sequenced purposely so that the content builds off each other and is reinforced. We recommend starting with a communication strategy to set a core foundation. Trainings should take place over a longer time frame, depending on the number of topics and participants, and can be done virtually, in-person, or hybrid. The participant size should be limited to no more than 40 (ideally 15 to 25).
In this model, trainings are specifically designed and organized to support organizations working in a particular geographic area or on a specific issue. Curriculum subject matter should be tied to the interests of the participants. For example, if the cohort is focused on early childhood learning, one of the messaging trainings can focus on what types of narratives need to be developed to make the case for that issue (versus a more evergreen training). The size of the cohort can vary (as little as 10 to over 100). However, smaller cohorts (10 to 30) enable for greater number of trainings and greater responsiveness to their specific needs.
This model brings together a cohort of grantees who could be geographically diverse but focused on a single policy goal. Trainings often are delivered as part of networking meetings where grantees come together to learn and share knowledge, experiences and progress toward their goals. Curriculum can be tailored to key milestones in the initiative. For example, message development and training may be one of the first sessions; as the effort progresses and messages have been used and tested in the field, media training or social media may be timely in advance of key policy conversations.
This model is meant to provide immediate and singular access to communication training in response to a rapid or emerging need. Typically meant to be more of a “one and done” approach versus a more in-depth training approach. For example, many organizations require media spokespeople training on an ongoing basis. Typically no more than three trainings are held on a limited number of topics. This model provides significant flexibility as to the number of participants – primarily depends on the topic. For example, if it is a single messaging training, you can bring together a very large group. If the training requires more hands-on learning, then a smaller group is recommended.